“…hopefulness and lifting up and then deep, deep grief and then lifting up… because that seems to be the human experience right now, doesn’t it?” Tim Booth of James, part of their co-headlining tour across North America with The Psychedelic Furs this summer, with one of their last stops in Reno at the Grand Theatre at Grand Sierra Resort & Casino. When the band first came out on the stage, he commented that they had just changed up their set list in reaction to the news coming out of Texas. Both bands put on stellar shows and each seemed to have their own respective hardcore fans as the audiences seemed to change up in-between sets. I really enjoyed seeing James for the first time and The Psychedelic Furs play at one of my favorite venues with a massive stage and stellar lighting.
“…one of the reasons it passed so quickly for me was actually – I had a kid. He’s magic. And I’ve basically wanted to hang out with him so I’m sorry I disappeared.” Dido offering some explanation of why she’s not done a world tour for the past 15 years, and as an introduction to one of two encore songs – her very personal “Have To Stay” – in her performance at The Masonic in San Francisco on Wednesday night. I’m actually one of those people who have waited to see her for the past 15 years, so it was an amazing experience. Supporting her brilliant new album, Still On My Mind, Dido played many hits and lots of new music, and still left us all wanting more, even with a 20-song set. This was actually show #1 of 3 for me and Shelley (Mrs. Rock Subculture), as we took time to also catch the subsequent shows in both Portland and Seattle (mini reviews included below) as Dido wrapped up the U.S. leg of her tour in California and the Pacific Northwest. Hopefully it won’t be another 15 years for her to come around again, but it was well worth the wait. [Read more…]
“This next song is the first song that we put out… that anybody really cared about. Ironically, I was making a joke on MySpace earlier, but this is the song that we put onto MySpace back when it was a thing [laughs/cheers]. Yeah. Just put the Millennial tag on us right now. We did break on social media, it is true. But it can be used for good regardless.” Ryan Tedder, in preface to the hit OneRepublic song, “Apologize”. A highlight of the 10th Anniversary of the annual Notes & Words: Benefit For UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital Oakland event that took place at Fox Theater Oakland on Saturday, April 27th. As per tradition, it featured both writers and musicians on stage, this year with Ryan Tedder & Drew Brown of OneRepublic, Jazz Mafia, Katy Stephan, and the Oakland School for the Arts handling the “notes” side of the show and Oscar winner, Helen Hunt, and Pulitzer Prize winning writer, Andrew Sean Greer, joining the stage with one of the key creative forces behind the event, Kelly Corrigan, taking care of the “words” side of the programming. Notes & Words is an annual benefit concert created to support the UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital Oakland, which provides the highest quality medical care to children throughout California. They announced that in the last 9 years, they’ve raised $12,150,000 with this event! I have heard that this year’s event on Saturday raised more than $3 million dollars.
Black Francis usually doesn’t have much to say on stage, and with the latest show by Pixies at the Grand Theatre at Grand Sierra Resort & Casino on Thursday night, it was mostly to introduce the titles of new songs that will be on their upcoming album expected later this year. Hearing these songs for the first time myself, I’d honestly say that this as yet untitled new album may be their best since their original quadrilogy. Which got me thinking, as I took in the show and had fleeting memories of high school (where I counted Pixies and Depeche Mode as my favorite bands)… all four of their original albums were literally all released while I was in high school (Surfer Rosa in 1988, Doolittle in 1989, Bossanova in 1990 and then Trompe le Monde in 1991) and I saw them quite a few times in concert back in the day (even opening for U2 once). In any event, I love every song released during those formative four years (except the two I hated), so seeing them jam live is always such a joy, as their music was made to be performed. [Read more…]
The 10th Anniversary of the annual Notes & Words: Benefit For UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital Oakland event will be held at Fox Theater Oakland on Saturday, April 27th. As per tradition, it will feature both writers and musicians on stage, this year featuring Ryan Tedder (OneRepublic) and the Oakland School for the Arts as well as Oscar winner Helen Hunt (actor/writer/producer) and Pulitzer Prize winning writer, Andrew Sean Greer as well as the creative force behind the event, Kelly Corrigan. Notes & Words is an annual benefit concert created to support the UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital Oakland; the Children’s Hospital & Research Center Oakland provides the highest quality medical care to children throughout California. [Read more…]
“You happy? It’s really a trip putting this set list together, as you can imagine, seven records, right? The past, the future… You know? So we kinda want your help at this point; this is the time traveling section of this set… We’re going backwards because we can’t go forward… So here’s the dilemma and here’s the choice we want you to make… Do we go back old world and do “Dead Disco” right? That whole thing, right? Or do we go Fantasies… butterflies, optimism, and do “Give Me Sympathy”? It’s tricky, it’s tricky… So let’s vote…” Emily Haines of Metric, giving the audience a chance to vote for the next song late in their set at the Hollywood Palladium on Wednesday night. Going by the audience reaction, it was pretty close, but Emily heard a larger reaction for “Give Me Sympathy”. However, once they finished that fan favorite song, she said “fuck it” and they played “Dead Disco” as well. It was really a fantastic evening of music with Metric and Zoé taking their co-headlining tour across the U.S., along with special guest July Talk supporting. Going by that set list, Metric went in deep with their latest album, Art of Doubt (one of my favorite albums of 2018), while Zoé celebrated their Grammy win for Best Latin Rock, Urban or Alternative Music Album for Aztlán. The massive tour is running through May, with some festival appearances to follow. It will definitely go down as one of my favorite shows of 2019.
As with my 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2017 Year in Review features, this article looks back on a year of music with a summary of the highlights. This is my attempt to (subjectively) share my favorites of the year, from live shows to new songs and albums. You can also check out my Top 100 Concert Photos of 2018 in that separate article.
“Can’t believe it’s been, I don’t know, one or two decades since we’ve been able to tour the States extensively… we count our blessings. I can tell already we’ll all have a great time tonight. We know that people have traveled from all around to come here tonight, so we really appreciate that as well. I should tell you that, because we don’t get to come here… because we haven’t been able to come here as much as we would have like – would have loved – we’re going to go the extra mile tonight.” Jim Kerr, front man and vocalist of Simple Minds at the Grand Theatre at Grand Sierra Resort & Casino on Saturday night, before a crowd that was on it’s feet for two full sets from the band. Simple Minds – led by Kerr and co-founder and guitarist Charlie Burchill – have been recording and performing for 40 years. And they show no signs of slowing down (and after seeing them live, I imagine that going “the extra mile” is a way of life for them). Incredible music – old and new – stunning work on guitar by Burchill, and that voice of Kerr’s… still absolutely captivating. The duo have an amazing band and this is one concert I will never forget. Highest recommendation to get out to see this band in a very rare North American tour. It was a transcendent experience.
“We’re now going to play another song you’ve probably never heard before. You forgive me though, right?” Shirley Manson of Garbage underlining one of the themes of the night for their “20 Years Paranoid” tour, which made a stop at the Grand Theatre at Grand Sierra Resort & Casino in Reno on Tuesday. The band is celebrating the twentieth anniversary of their second album, Version 2.0, by touring a set list that features them playing the album in its entirety as well as very rare B-sides and just a handful of songs beyond the scope of that period of their career. I’ve seen the band on most of their tours since they reunited and began recording and performing again after a long hiatus, and really it seems like they do something really different each time they come around. Even I was unfamiliar with some of the songs played (many were rarities originally limited to B-side releases in the late ’90s), but I am catching up now with their newly released 20th Anniversary Deluxe Edition / Remastered version of their album. Shirley was pretty chatty and candid with the crowd in-between songs and it felt like quite a special show. I really enjoyed it and it reminded me of what a stellar band they are live, and it provided some additional insights into what makes the band tick and what motivates them as artists. It’s really worth catching up with them on this tour, even for casual fans. One of the most unique bands of my generation, always staying true to themselves and keeping things interesting.
Music from the future. I’m not sure how else to describe Thievery Corporation and their live show at the Grand Theatre at Grand Sierra Resort & Casino this week. I’ve followed them casually for many years now, but never made a concerted effort to dig into their many releases put out on their own label going back a few decades now… but their live concert sure inspired me to do so. Their music is so rich with influences, at once it feels like it is from everywhere and no where familiar all at once. It doesn’t feel “American”, it feels more like it is from the planet Earth. It is what I imagine popular music might sound like many, many decades from today. But it is here and now. In any event, whatever it is and wherever it came from Rob Garza and the many artist who work with him and tour with him put on one of the best shows I’ve seen this year, and turned me into a fan. I have a lot of catching up to do, which is a good thing.